How to Find a Good Acupuncturist Near Me

Studies have shown that acupuncture can help ease chronic pain and treat other medical conditions. It is estimated that more than 20 percent of adults suffer chronic pain, with a majority of these adults taking prescription drugs to relieve this pain. Unfortunately, about 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioid-based pain relievers for the treatment of chronic pain misuse them. In 2019, more than 9 million people aged 12 or older misused prescription pain relievers, while about 745,000 individuals used heroin. This has led to the death of about 50,000 people from opioid-involved overdoses. This misuse of opioids like prescription pain relievers has led to the search for drug-free methods of combating chronic pain, and this is where hiring a good acupuncturist near you comes in handy.

Acupuncture has the benefit of being not only non-addictive but cost-effective as well. When undergoing acupuncture treatment, patients may no longer have to buy pain relievers as consistently as before, nor would they have to go for routine care in hospitals. However, acupuncture is a risky process that can cause bodily injury if not handled by a skilled professional. As such, when considering hiring an acupuncturist near you, there are certain questions you need to ask to make sure that the practitioner is duly qualified and is the right fit for you. These include:

  1. Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?

    Every state, except for Alabama, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, currently requires acupuncturists to obtain a professional license before rendering their services to members of the public. However, the licensure requirements vary from state to state. Generally, these requirements tend to include passing the Acupuncture and Biomedicine Examination administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). It is important that you verify an acupuncturist's licensing status with the appropriate state licensing board before hiring an acupuncturist near you. You can find out more about your state's licensing requirements and license verification by using the NCCAOM State Licensure Directory. Note that even in states that do not require acupuncturists to be licensed, it is better to hire an acupuncturist certified by NCCAOM as such certification serves as proof of an acupuncturist's knowledge, skill, and even professional dedication to clients.

    Other than licensing and certification, it is also a good idea to find out whether your preferred acupuncturist is a member of a professional organization like the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) and the National Guild of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NGAOM). These associations typically have a Code of Ethics that members must abide by. Remember to always ask for proof of professional association membership from any acupuncturist that claims to be a member of any.

  2. How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Acupuncturist?

    The average cost of a 60-minute acupuncture session is $50 to $100. Note that the exact price for these sessions depends on factors like the credentials, experience, and location of the acupuncturist as well as the type of service to be rendered. For instance, certain types of acupuncture require specialized training, tools, and equipment, causing the price of treatment to increase. Also, acupuncture treatment for issues like back pain, migraines, and smoking costs less than acupuncture for cosmetic and fertility treatments. For the former, you can expect to pay between $50 to $90 per session, while the latter generally costs an average of $100 to $150 per session. However, you can save costs on these sessions by doing any of the following:

    • Finding out if your health insurance covers the cost of acupuncture treatment. Most insurance companies will typically only reimburse costs incurred by an acupuncturist that is duly licensed in your state. You can contact your insurance provider to find out whether your plan covers acupuncture treatments and if there are any specific requirements you have to meet to qualify for the coverage.
    • Going for group appointments. In these appointments, a few individuals are treated simultaneously but discreetly by a single acupuncturist at a lower rate. The prices for these group treatments can range from $15 to $55.
    • Contacting a professional acupuncturist with fewer years of experience to get a price reduction.

What Are the Common Acupuncturing Expenses?

Other than the actual cost of hiring an acupuncturist near you, you may incur certain additional expenses when undergoing acupuncture treatment. You may need to buy herbal supplements, pain relief creams, and certain physiotherapy materials like hot packs, knee braces, and compression socks if recommended by the acupuncturist. Additionally, most acupuncturists structure their pricing such that the first treatment session costs more than subsequent follow-up sessions. They do this because the first session tends to take longer since it includes a consultation, finding out the patient's history, tongue and pulse diagnosis, and the actual acupuncture procedure. During this first visit, the acupuncturist will also try to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the procedure. Subsequent sessions after the initial session will typically cost less since the acupuncturist is just performing the procedure.

Who Will Do the Work?

Regardless of whether you meet an acupuncturist in a health clinic, private practice, or through recommendations from a medical professional, your first concern should be verifying the licensing status of the acupuncturist with the relevant state licensing board. After that, you also need to make sure that the acupuncturist you intend to hire does not have any disciplinary actions filed against them by contacting the relevant state licensing board. During your first consultation with your desired acupuncturist, also make sure to assess whether the practitioner is the best fit for you. Ask the acupuncturist about the method of treatment, the steps involved, and how much relief you can expect it to provide. Also, find out how many hours in the week you will be required to come for treatment and how you can contact the acupuncturist in cases of emergencies.

What Qualifications Should an Acupuncturist Have?

Acupuncturists are generally required to have a Master's level degree in a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). Most States also require acupuncturists to obtain a state-issued license before practicing. While the licensing requirements vary by state, they typically include completing 1500 to 2000 hours of training as well as passing National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certification examinations on topics like biomedicine, Chinese herbology, acupuncture with point location, and oriental medicine. After obtaining a license, acupuncturists are also required to complete continuing education courses to maintain their licenses. They can also join associations like the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) and the National Guild of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NGAOM) to further their careers.

Will You Provide References?

Before trying to decide on an acupuncturist to hire near you, it is advisable to get recommendations from friends or family members who have undergone acupuncture treatment in the past. You can also get referrals from your physician and reputable associations like the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM). On finding an acupuncturist, you still need to ask for references of patients the practitioner has worked with in the past. Most acupuncturists are prepared for such requests and will try to provide references of patients that they have treated for a condition similar to yours. These references validate the experience of the acupuncturist and can also provide third-party validation of the acupuncturist, so make sure to contact them. You can still go a step further by researching the acupuncturist's patient ratings and reviews on review websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review. These reviews will give you an insight into the acupuncturist's skills and bedside manner. Acupuncture is a very delicate process that can cause injury if not handled by a person skilled enough, so it is important that you take all these steps to verify that your preferred acupuncturist near you is the right one for you.

Quick Facts about Acupuncturists

2020 Median Pay
$82,420 per year, $39.63 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Number of Jobs, 2019
Job Outlook, 2019-29
5% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Acupuncture

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture works by inserting hair-thin needles into various acupuncture points in the body to bring proper balance to it. These acupuncture points stimulate the central nervous system, releasing chemicals into the brain, muscles, and spinal cord. This, in turn, stimulates the body's natural healing abilities, promoting physical and emotional health.

Does Acupuncture Really Work? Is Acupuncture A Valid Medical Technique?

Studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have proven acupuncture to be an effective medication-free method of treating certain conditions. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted acupuncture its first U.S. seal of authorization in 1996 and has also categorized acupuncture needles as medical instruments.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Acupuncture is safe when it is carried out by a properly trained and experienced practitioner making use of sterile needles. If the needles are improperly placed during acupuncture treatment, it can cause pain to the patient. Using non-sterilized needles can also cause infection. This is why it is crucial that you seek treatment from only qualified acupuncturists.

Who Can Have Acupuncture?

Anyone, including babies, adolescents, and the elderly, can have acupuncture. However, it may have potentially dangerous side effects for people that use a pacemaker, have chronic skin problems, are on certain medications, or are at risk of infection. As such, it is advised that you consult with your doctor before going for acupuncture treatments.

Are There Any Side Effects To Acupuncture?

There are virtually no unpleasant side effects to acupuncture. While you may feel certain sensations such as slight cramping, distention, heaviness, tingling, or an electric sensation, such discomfort is usually mild, temporary, and self-correcting. You may also experience some minor bruising at the point where the needle was inserted.

Can You Have Acupuncture In Pregnancy?

Acupuncture is totally safe and comfortable during pregnancy and can help relieve certain pregnancy conditions. It is believed to help prevent miscarriage, assist embryo development, and address other symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and heartburn, particularly in the first trimester. However, pregnant women should inform the acupuncturists of their pregnancy when they go for treatment as some acupuncture points may be contraindicated during pregnancy.

How Can I Prepare For My Acupuncture Treatment?

You can prepare for your acupuncture treatment by doing the following:

  • Not eating large meals an hour before your appointment as the digestion process can alter your pulse. It may also cause you discomfort as you will likely lie on your stomach during the acupuncture session.
  • Avoiding alcohol and any food or drink that can color your tongue.
  • Organize a list of all your medications, both current and past ones. This is to enable the physician to know how to administer treatment to you.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes so that you will be comfortable during the session and so that the acupuncturist can easily access your acupuncture points.
  • Avoid taking caffeine before your appointment.

Do Medical Doctors Believe In Acupuncture?

Acupuncture still remains debatable among most scientists and Western medical practitioners. However, most medical doctors in the United States believe in acupuncture. In fact, many obstetricians, physiologists, and gynecologists work closely with acupuncturists to provide patients with the highest level of care.

What Conditions Is Acupuncture Good For?

Acupuncture is believed to treat the following conditions:

  • Dental pain following surgery
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Addiction
  • Nausea induced by cancer chemotherapy or surgical anesthesia
  • Headaches
  • Myofascial pain
  • Low back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neck pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Asthma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Neurogenic bladder
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Infertility
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Do Acupuncture Needles Hurt?

Acupuncture needles do not hurt. These needles are hair-thin and look nothing like the needles used for medical injections. While you may feel a little pressure when the needle pierces the skin surface, you should not feel any pain. In fact, most people do not notice or feel pain when the needles are inserted. Instead, they tend to enter into a deeply relaxed state or even fall asleep. Also, after acupuncture treatments, patients reportedly feel relaxed and energized. The acupuncture needles will only be painful if the treatment is done by an unqualified practitioner.